The man who organized and led Union soldiers from Daviess County in the Battle of Westport was also the county’s prosecuting attorney and a circuit court judge. James H.B. McFerran helped initiate the Daviess County Savings Association, and served as its president when this banking institution was later robbed by Frank & Jesse James in 1869. McFerran eventually left for Colorado Springs, Colorado, where he died.
James H.B. McFerran was born in Washington County. Maryland, September 17, 1819. At the age of six years his father died, and he remained with his mother until his 17th year, attending school part of the time.
On reaching the above age he engaged in the stone cutting business under a contractor by the name of Andrew Small, receiving seventy-five cents per day for the first year. Owing to an aptitude for the work, the second year he was given the position of superintendent, at a salary of one dollar and eighty-seven and one-half cents per day, and continued as superintendent until he was 20 years of age. At that time he went into business for himself, taking a contract first on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal, and then on the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad, and continued some six years, at the close of his last work going back to his mother’s in 1845. He then decided to study law, and living with his mother he attended school and studied law under the instruction of the Hon. Samuel A. Lowe of Hagerstown, Maryland, afterwards the governor of the State. He remained there until 1848, when he became a citizen of Gallatin, and Daviess County.
Having been admitted to the bar he practiced his profession, and in June, 1855, was appointed prosecuting attorney of Daviess County, at a salary of $100 a year, payable in quarterly installments. Mr. McFerran held many offices of trust, and was for a number of years county commissioner, and, also, superintendent of public buildings.
In 1856 he was elected to the legislature, serving one term, when, in 1858, he was elected to the State Senate. In this latter position he attended but one session, when he resigned, having been elected judge for the judicial circuit composed of the counties of Worth, DeKalb, Harrison, Daviess and Livingston, in the year 1859, which he held for a full term of six years, acquitting himself with honor, and the good will of the bar for the prompt manner he conducted the business of the court, and the justness of his decisions.
Mr. McFerran’s competitor for the judgeship was William Y. Slack, a prominent attorney of Livingston County, and for a long time circuit attorney of this judicial district. Col. Slack became, in the Civil War between the States which soon commenced, a volunteer on the Confederate side, and rose to the rank of Brigadier-General for gallant service. He was killed at the battle of Pea Ridge. In the election to the several offices above named, Mr. McFerran was elected as a Democrat.
In April, 1862, Mr. McFerran organized the First Cavalry Regiment of Missouri State Militia, and received his commission as colonel April 9, 1862. Alexander M. Woolfork of Livingston County, being lieutenant-colonel of the regiment. The company continued in the service under the command of Colonel McFerran until the close of the war, and was honorably discharged. Colonel McFerran then returned to Gallatin, and took up his residence. Previous to the war, he was engaged for a few years in the mercantile business, his partner being Jonathan E. Mann, the style of the firm being Mann & McFerran.
Soon after his return from the war, in 1865, Colonel McFerran went into the banking business, organizing the Daviess County Saving Association, yet a prominent banking institution, and of which he remained president until 1879. In 1867, however, Colonel McFerran removed to Chillicothe, in Livingston County, Missouri, where he was instrumental in organizing the People’s Saving Bank, of that city; and was elected president, which position he held until he retired in 1873. During all these years he was in the active practice of the law.
In 1873, Colonel McFerran concluded to make his home at Colorado Springs, Colorado, and removed to that place the same year. He is still a resident of that city and engaged in the banking business, having established the well-known People’s Bank, of that flourishing city. He visits often his old home, Gallatin, where he is greeted by his numerous friends most cordially. Colonel.
McFerran is of fine personal appearance, being over six feet in height and of large frame. He is in the sixty-third year of his age and in good health. In 1854 he married Miss Emily Lewis, of Gallatin, by whom he has three children, daughters: Blanche, wife of George W. Trimble, of Denver, Colorado; Estelle, wife of Absalom Y. Hunter* of Leadville, Colorado: and Maud who is living with her parents. Colonel McFerran is at this time a member of El Paso Lodge No. __,, A. F. & A. M., of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
— from The 1882 HISTORY OF DAVIESS COUNTY, pp. 550-551.
(other references on pages 214, 272, 275, 311, 494, 486, 488, 528, 556, 566)